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2020 June/July
Pg 8 - The Sunshine Express
Home & Garden
3 ways a deck can make
staying home more enjoyable
(BPT): With children out of school and millions
of people working remotely and looking for a
more natural option for their home offices, a well
thought out deck could be the answer to making
a staycation, whether forced or planned, more
Here are three ways a deck can improve the at
home experience.
1. Fewer screens, more fun
When kids are out of school screen time usually
goes up. Whether it¡¯s TV, computers, video games,
phones or tablets, screen time is usually a seden-
tary activity.
A deck can provide an alternative outdoor play
space where kids can be active and stretch their
imaginations, enjoy the outdoors and do things
like bring their favorite toys like building blocks,
action figures or doll houses outdoors.
Worried about splinters hurting those little toes
and fingers? Composite decking is a beautiful
option that makes sanding, staining, sealing and
splinters a thing of the past.
While composite decking has historically had a
higher price tag than traditional wood, boards like
Envision Ridge Premium deliver the exotic hard-
wood beauty and low maintenance of composites
at a budget friendly price.
2. Home office with a side of vitamin D
Millions of Americans have moved to work from
home situations recently and are looking for a
way to get out of their stuffy home offices in favor
of a workspace with natural lighting and a great
Soaking up a safe amount of sun every day can
reap big benefits for your health, according to
physicians, including elevating mood, improving
sleep, promoting bone growth and strengthening
the immune system.
With the right patio furniture, a deck can make
a great option for an outdoor workspace to soak
up the benefits of the sun¡¯s rays. Choose a table
of the appropriate height and a comfortable chair
for extended work sessions or a cushioned chaise
lounge for shorter periods.
Adding a screen or pergola to a deck can provide
some protection from the wind (fewer important
work papers blowing around).
3. Family time all year long
If there¡¯s an upside to the increase in people stay-
ing home, it¡¯s the ability to connect with the other
people living in your home.
Life can get so busy with work, friends and other
commitments that it¡¯s difficult to find time to con-
nect or have a family night. A deck is a great place
to gather the members of your household for a
laid-back evening of stargazing or a rowdy game
And those family connections don¡¯t have to end
due to summer¡¯s heat or fall¡¯s chill. By adding an
outdoor heater, firepit or fans, you can extend
your deck¡¯s use as a family space to the majority
of the year.
As you can see, a deck is a great way to expand
the living space of your home and to provide an
alternative space for all members of the family to
Expand Your Living Space
Possible To Qualify
math and consider what is best for them,
because many times they will find that buying
with a low down payment insured mortgage is
in their best interest.
It may enable them to attain homeownership
sooner than they otherwise could, which helps
them take advantage of historic low rates and
keep some of their savings intact,¡± said Lindsey
Johnson, President of U.S. Mortgage Insurers
If you are one of these renters looking to buy
your first home but don¡¯t have 20% down,
don¡¯t worry, you are not alone. According to
the National Association of Realtors, the me-
dian down payment in 2019 was 6% for first
time buyers.
It is true that you can qualify for a conventional
mortgage with a down payment as small as
3% of the purchase price. In today¡¯s market, it
could take a family earning the national median
income up to 21 years to save 20%, according
to calculations by USMI.
How can buying now save you money later?
Consider you want to purchase a $275,000
home. When you account for closing costs
(about 3% of the sales price), a 5% down pay-
ment is $13,750 versus $63,250 in cash for
20% down. With a 740 credit score at today¡¯s
MI rates, your monthly MI payment would be
about $115, which is added to your monthly
mortgage payment until the MI can be can-
celled. MI typically cancels after five years.
With home price appreciation, today¡¯s
$275,000 home will likely cost more in the
years ahead. This will also have an impact on
the necessary down payment and length of
time required to save for it. There are other
variables in the equation too, such as interest
rates. As interest rates rise, so too will the cost
of mortgage financing.
Not all MI is the same. Importantly, so-called
¡°FHA Loans¡± are government-backed loans
insured by the Federal Housing Administra-
tion versus a private insurer. These mortgages
require a slightly higher down payment, the
insurance is permanent and the monthly pre-
miums generally cannot be cancelled.
Make sure you do the math. There are many
online mortgage calculators that can help.
Check out to learn
Do the math: Buying a home now may be
more affordable and save some cash
(BPT): At a time when the strength of the U.S.
economy and personal finance is on most renters¡¯
minds, low down payment mortgage options are
more appealing than ever. With mortgage interest
rates being at historic lows, it is possible to qualify
for a home loan while keeping a rainy day fund.
Private mortgage insurance (MI) has been around
for decades and helped over 1.3 million homebuy-
ers last year. It is a temporary cost that allows for
a down payment as small as 3% of the purchase
While some borrowers wait until they save 20%
for a down payment, the added years of saving
can translate to higher interest rates and more
expensive home prices.
¡°Renters who are on the hunt to buy should do the